Teaching and resources for English and Music

This site will look better with stylesheets enabled, and in a standards compliant browser (i.e. not Netscape 3 or 4.x)

Mediant Studies

Outline of the Bach Arrangements Module

The question is about the CD Toccata: Jacques Loussier Plays Bach (Telarc CD–83411). You must be able to refer to (or compare) two tracks on the CD.  However you will also be expected to refer to other arrangements of music by Bach.  These may be for orchestra, piano, choir, or any other medium.  

The module begins by studying Baroque styles and structures, and in particular those on which pieces on the CD are based.  Musical examples are given so you can see the differences between the various forms.  There are notes about the style of Bach himself.   In keeping with baroque tradition, Bach himself often arranged music (both music he had written and music others had written) for whatever forces he had available.  Since then, there have been various attempts to “reinvent” his music, beginning with Romantic pianists, such as Liszt and Busoni, who arranged his music to take advantage of thickened textures which the nineteenth-century piano could provide. 

The arrangements on the given CD are jazz, so special attention is given to the development of instrumental jazz in general, and of jazz piano in particular.  Transcriptions of examples of boogie and stride are included, so you can see the features of these styles.  There are explanations of jazz and other terms used.  (Examples of them can be seen in the jazz transcriptions provided, too.)

Attempts to "fuse" classical and jazz styles, starting with the best-known composer of such “fusion”, George Gershwin, are studied.  There is also reference to the group on the West Coast of the United States which was influenced by French composer Milhaud to experiment in fusing jazz and classical styles, as well as to the “Third Stream” movement developed by Charles Mingus.  (A simple transcription of part of one of his tracks is included.)  Jazz arrangements of Bach, such as those played by the Modern Jazz Quartet, come in for particular mention.  Attention is then given to Jacques Louissier;  we see how he made the music of Bach approachable to people who would not ordinarily listen to his music.

Finally there are detailed analyses of several tracks on the CD.  There is information about ornamentation, a basic element of Louissier’s “reinvention” of Bach, with musical examples of ornaments in use in Bach’s time and today.

Scores are included;  you can see what Bach actually wrote, and compare it with scores by "classical" composers who have transcribed or arranged music by Bach, and with what you hear the Loussier Trio and other jazz musicians play.

Assignments test students' knowledge and skills.  There is also a list of questions asked in past examinations and suggestions of how to answer them.   Sample essay answers are also provided, so you can see what the examiner expects to see.

There is no score of the music on the Loussier CD - although scores of  Bach originals and some other arrangements of Bach's music are provided.  However you should listen carefully to at least two of the tracks on the CD so you can answer questions about them.  You must also be familiar with other arrangements of Bach that you can refer to.

"You should've been a part of Trinity as an examiner itself.  I’ve never had such an experience of being remarked so much in detail. ...I'm sure there's no one as excellent as you to have worked so much in detail that the students can feel almost as being more knowledgeable than required for the course."  Mohit Kumar, Hyderabad, India, November 2014.

Click here to return to OUTLINE OF THE AMusTCL COURSE

Up arrow
Back to Top